The aforementioned Ninja works with one such company called Ader. Which is funded by Disney and positions itself as the first marketplace to connect brands with e-sports influencers on Twitch, the popular streaming service that Amazon purchased for $970 million in August 2014. Ader essentially helps brands authentically engage with gamers across e-sports, gaming and social media platforms, and has a unique perspective on how e-sports stars like Ninja are generating such high engagement with fans.
I recently spoke with Ader Chief Revenue Officer Andrew Temkin to learn more about how and why businesses should be looking closely at the e-sports space for the new kind of endorsement opportunities.
Why brands should be looking at e-sports influencers as ambassadors.
Right now, around 1.2 billion are people playing video games worldwide. So there is a significant addressable market that is only growing, but how to reach that market continues to be a question for most brands. The e-sports audience is looking for authentic experiences; they are sensitive to being over-marketed to or approached with what they perceive as cheap tactics.
“By partnering with e-sports influencers. Brands are leveraging the trust these athletes have already built with their individual communities,” says Temkin. “With vehicles such as tournaments, live streams and giveaways and more. The e-sports environment provides a direct marketing platform that can speak to a live audience of 100K people at one time. So it’s important to be authentic in that approach.”
E-Sports offers fans and athletes direct contact through the game experience.
Traditional athletes offer a live experience to fans, but do not have contact with spectators during the live events. That is a key differentiator when it comes to engagement. And thinking about value added for a business thinking about working with an e-sports athlete as opposed to a traditional athlete.
This ability to connect in a live environment creates a real emotion connection for the fans, and the type of relationship that is difficult to replicate with a traditional sports professional.
The most important e-sports metric for brands is cost-per-viewer.
Any brand thinking about retaining an endorser is always considering the return-on-investment (ROI), which is often hard to peg. In e-sports, the cost-per-viewer — the time you are buying associated with the number of people watching live — appears to be the key metric.
“Many brands make the mistake of focusing more heavily on an e-sports athlete’s reach. And number of followers on social, but in an e-sports environment. You should really be looking at the live audience numbers,” says Temkin.
E-Sports influencers are typically engaged at rates significantly lower than traditional athletes.
Traditional professional athletes are commonly going to cost much more to serve as an ambassador for a product or service than an e-sports influencer. Which makes sense since the industry is still largely in growth mode. And the influencers cater to a smaller demographic for the time being, mainly centered around millennials.
Campaigns for e-sports influencers can range from $75,000 to $750,000 depending on the player. And number of players involved and the goals of the company, according to Temkin. Costs are based on a number of factors that include the size of the e-sports influencer’s audience. The player’s skill level, what game he or she plays, team affiliation. Recent performance and match results, conversions and social interactions. And what platform he/she promotes through, as well as the size of the campaign. And how many people are intended to be in the live audience.